Playgrounds in malls usually don’t make the news, but a Des Moines shopping center is opening a facility today it says is “Iowa’s first interactive shopping mall play area and library.” Merle Hay Mall’s new play area measures 18-hundred-75 square feet, and spokeswoman Angel Head says it’s filled with native Iowa things to climb on, including a giant box turtle and a 12-foot-tall maple tree.There’s also a “match game” where you can match up pictures of Iowa animals, like deer. There’s an interactive map where you push buttons and it shows you where things like Des Moines and the Mississippi River are located — and big blocks show things grown in Iowa, from pigs to honey to corn. Head says the play area features a library of more than 300 books.They’ll range from being appropriate for two-year-olds through eight, and eventually through 12-year-olds. Head says they won’t be stationing a librarian in the play area — the library will operate on the honor system. The new play area opens at noon.
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